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Quick Hits

  • The New York State Assembly has passed and delivered the Retail Worker Safety Act to the state Senate.
  • Under the legislation, retail employers would be required to have written workplace violence prevention programs and workplace violence training.
  • Retail employers with 500 or more employees nationwide would also be required to install access to panic buttons to immediately dispatch local law enforcement when pressed.

Assembly Bill A8947, titled the “Retail Worker Safety Act,”  experienced some delays as it went through three separate amendments and spent some time laid aside on the Assembly floor. The Assembly also delivered the bill to the Senate for an additional vote, unless the Senate passes S8358, its identical (or “Same As”) version of the Assembly bill.

Once the bill passes both the Assembly and Senate, it will be delivered to Governor Kathy Hochul, who will have ten days to either sign or veto the legislation. If Governor Hochul takes no action on the bill within that ten-day period, the bill will become law automatically.

The provisions under the Retail Worker Safety Act, including requirements for a written workplace violence prevention program and workplace violence training, will go into effect 180 days after enactment. The only exception to this is the requirement for all employers with 500 or more retail employees nationwide (increased from fifty in prior versions of the bill) to provide access to panic buttons within the workplace. This requirement will go into effect on January 1, 2027.

The Retail Worker Safety Act is one of the first dedicated and comprehensive state measures designed to address the growing problem of violence in the workplace. The written workplace violence prevention program mandated under the bill would, among other things, require employers to identify risk factors and violence prevention methods specific to their workplaces. The required training for employees would have to be interactive and would have to address measures such as de-escalation tactics and active shooter drills to handle specific workplace risks.

New York has been hot on the heels of California, which was the first state to enact a dedicated workplace violence prevention law. With the bill having passed New York’s Assembly, and likely soon to be passed in the Senate, Governor Hochul can expect to have this on her desk sooner rather than later. As go California and New York, so likely will go many of the other states. Employers across the country can expect at least some degree of legislative response addressing workplace violence within the near future.

Ogletree Deakins’ Workplace Violence Prevention Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and will publish updates on the New York, Retail, and Workplace Safety and Health blogs as additional information becomes available.

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